We have now entered a new civic year. As I sit down to write this piece, I do so with some amazement in the knowledge that I remain, for a fourth year, as Chairman of this Parish. Tenure of this office, as with all, has its lifespan. I have been incredibly lucky that mine in this office has been longer than most. It is with the honour of serving another year that I once again offer my commitment to represent this Parish with all candour and commitment.
While I move into a fourth year as Chairman, there are changes within the Council. Chief amongst these is that of my Vice Chairman. I would like to record my greatest thanks to Cllr John Pike for his own dedication as my second-in-command. John has served in this capacity for all three years of my Chairmanship, and has done so with all the enthusiasm and dignity of a true public servant. I am forever grateful to John for his support and guidance throughout this time, and I look forward to his continued council in the future.
At this point, I would also like to introduce you all to my new Vice Chairman, Cllr Mark Evans. You will all get to know Mark much better in due course, but suffice to say he is a real champion of our village, tracing his heritage in this Parish back for centuries. In Mark as with John, we have another passionate advocate of our wonderful village, and this bodes well for our future.
Looking back to April, it is with sadness I also reflect on the leaving of another key figure within our community. Rev. Paul Brown has served our community as the Rector at St. Benedict-Biscop for twenty-four years. A remarkable achievement indeed! I was very pleased to be present for his final service on Easter Sunday. The beautiful service was appended by presentations to Paul, many kind words spoken, and a few teary eyes.
In response, Paul spoke with warmth of friendships and great memories, and presented in return two 19th century photographs of St. Benedict’s. I would like to thank Rev. Brown for his lifetime of dedication given to the people of Wombourne, caring greatly for our spiritual as well as physical wellbeing. I wish him very well for the future, and that our new incumbent brings as much passion commitment as Paul.
The truly historic nature of this Jubilee year is utterly inescapable. We are the first inhabitants of this nation to witness a Platinum Jubilee; historic in its own right. However, it takes on all the more meaning when we realise nobody alive today will witness this same feat in their lifetimes. This moment is truly unique.
Over the long Jubilee weekend, we mark this occasion with celebrations galore. The Jubilee Concert, a memorable Dinner Dance and many street parties taking place right across our community. What amazing scenes.
Not only is the Jubilee marked in this glorious celebration, but we also turn to a familiar staple of our village. Wombourne Carnival, which we all know has sadly been absent since its last appearance in 2019, is back in spectacular fashion and continues the Jubilee celebrations with its theme of ‘the best of British’. After the ravages of the Covid pandemic on both physical and mental wellbeing, it is entirely apt we have cause for such extensive celebrations this year. Whatever the term ‘best of British’ means to you, I look forward to seeing many of you enjoying yourselves at the Carnival.
Coming back to specifically Parish Council matters, I am very pleased to say the Parish Council will acquire powers of general competence this year, achieved through the hard work of our Clerk. Such powers will enable the Council the opportunity to do more than ever before. As you will no doubt have seen, the Council has been undertaking to engage further and further with our community through community groups, working with our High Street traders, and with our schools. This work will continue and will become all the more obvious as we work to produce a regular Parish Council newsletter, explaining what the Council is doing for the benefit of residents.
Finally, I return to an oft-visited theme: that of volunteering. This year I have got to meet yet more hard-working volunteers. These people are truly special, and they demonstrate the very best qualities of our village.
At our Annual Parish Meeting in April, we awarded our community grant. A presentation was given by Helen Standish-Bevan of 3rd Wombourne Girl Guides, ably supported by one of her Guides, Rose, whose passion for developing a garden at their Guide hut was clear for all to see. I eagerly await the results of their efforts, and hope to be present for the grand unveiling.
At our May meeting, I was therefore thrilled to present the Joan Williams Civic Award. This award recognises truly amazing people doing so much for our community. This year’s winner, Donna Eccleston, is genuinely inspirational. A passionate fundraiser for charities and good causes, champion of the home of Wombourne W.I. at the village hall, and a key member of Wombourne’s Best Kept Village team, Donna works tirelessly for others. I was so pleased to present Donna with her award in front of a packed Parish Council chamber.
Throughout this piece, and many of those written previously, I think this theme stands out greater than any other. Service to our community is a hallmark that of our village. People work hard simply to make it a better place and do so with such passion. They do this because they realise that what exists here is very special indeed.
Wombourne Parish Council
This year is already collecting historic events that will live long in the memory, nationally, internationally, and locally. Some are incredibly positive and a cause for celebration, while others come with great sadness and give us pause to reflect and support those affected.
It is impossible for me to write this without thinking, as many of us have been, of the people of Ukraine. Not in the lifetimes of many of us has war of this magnitude come to Europe, and for the rest of us, the current international emergency has hallmarks of 1939.
Early in the crisis, our very own Jet Singh Trust organised aid packages that have gone to Poland to support those poor families fleeing war, and I was pleased to offer my own assistance in preparing donations with them. I don’t think any of us could comprehend the horror and fear these people face, and my heart goes out to them all.
I would also like to take a moment to reflect on the passing of some important members of our community.
I was extremely saddened to hear of the passing of John Phillips in January. The histories of Wombourne and the Wodehouse estate are inextricably linked, and many are rightly proud of it. John Phillips had been a central figure in village life, being the patron of many groups and societies. His presence will be sadly missed as we enter a new chapter for the Wodehouse estate.
At a similar time, we also saw the passing of another Wombourne stalwart, Sheila Standish. A dedicated Guides leader to the end, many in our community grew up under her guidance and have very fond memories of her. I had never met Sheila prior to the pandemic, and even then it was by making a new friend in her daughter, Helen. I met Sheila once or twice on Zoom, as well as at a fantastic evening when the Guides came to the Parish Council Chamber to hear about our role and to have a debate. It was a lively evening, and it was clear Sheila’s presence was as important to everyone there at that moment as it had ever been.
These two people are so important to our story as a village, our sense of community and decency. They will be missed.
As we move now into spring, it is also right to consider all the positive things we will see this year.
On the 26th March, Wombourne Parish Council holds its latest High Street Day as it hosts the ‘Spring Fling’ with a variety of acts in the village centre and at Common Road. This will be the latest of these events, and the first of the range of celebrations that will occur throughout the year, including celebrating Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and the Commonwealth Games. Please watch out for this fantastic March event and I look forward to seeing you there.
The week prior, we will also celebrate the return of our annual Civic Reception. This event recognises and thanks the hard work and dedication of our wonderful community volunteers. The event has been altered to ensure more volunteers than ever can attend and be formally recognised. It is so important that we cherish those who give their time for others, and I am delighted to be celebrating with so many of these dedicated and upstanding people on the 19th March. This is still just a small snapshot of all the volunteers in our community, but my thanks go out to each and every one of you.
This historic Jubilee year is set to be celebrated far and wide. Many events are happening across South Staffordshire, and Wombourne is not lacking in congratulating our Monarch’s special and unprecedented anniversary. On the Friday of the bank holiday weekend, Wombourne Parish Council will be hosting an open-air concert throughout the afternoon and evening with food and drink available for guests. Attendance at this concert will be free-of-charge and is an opportunity for all residents to come together in celebration of this unique feat. On the Saturday night, we will also be hosting a special Jubilee dinner dance and I hope to see some of you there. Please look out for further details and booking information.
On the Sunday, we are encouraging residents to join in with the Big Jubilee Lunch and host street parties or front-garden parties wherever possible. This is a huge national celebration, so let’s celebrate in the way only Wombourne can. Of course, I will be visiting events that are occurring across the weekend and look forward to celebrating with you all.
It is also important that the youngest generations also mark this occasion in a meaningful way, and so we will be opening a competition to all Wombourne school children to design a special card and compose a poem for each school to send to Her Majesty to mark this special occasion. I will certainly look forward to seeing the amazing entries.
On a somewhat more business-like note to end this report, I would like to update on the work of the Parish Council. As previously reported, the Parish Council provided an exceptional response to the District Council’s Local Plan Review Public Consultation, and I was very pleased to personally write the introduction to that document. We have fought Wombourne’s corner on this matter and await the results of that consultation and any alterations to proposals that may result of our response and the responses of residents. Once more, thank you to all of you who responded to the consultation, and we will update you when we have news.
It may also have come to the attention of some of you that several collisions have occurred on the Bridgnorth Road near to the Himley Meadows development. Parish Councillors have worked hard with District and County colleagues to make the case for a reduction in the speed limit and we await further details of how this will proceed. Community Speed Watch is also back on the beat again and are changing behaviours as well as reporting speeding vehicles that pose a danger to our residents. If you are interested in joining the team, please contact me.
The Parish Council is also busy professionalising and transforming. Indeed, so busy are we that we are taking on a new admin assistant to the Clerk, which means we will be able to continue doing more than ever and keep delivering for Wombourne. We are YOUR council, and we will continue delivering on your priorities.
Finally, this report marks the end of my third year as your Chairman. I can hardly believe the time has passed so quickly myself, but throughout these three years it has been such a great pleasure and honour. Wombourne is a very special place, and we must never forget that.
Wombourne Parish Council
Since my last report, there have been important happenings within the Parish Council. As usual, it has been a busy time. We are now turning to a time of year that can be both joyous and sorrowful. We begin November with reflections on the loss of wartime and of thanksgiving to those that have given their lives in service to our country. We end the year with the festivities of Christmas and celebrations as we welcome a new year, and all the trappings that come with this. However, again this is not a period of celebration for all, and can instead be a time for remembering and missing loved ones who may be far away or no longer here. This is a time that speaks to all of us in different ways, and it is my hope residents will keep the circumstances of others in mind.
At the Parish Council, it has been a busy time as usual. We have run a number of High Street events since the summer, encouraging people to shop local and champion local business, and more on this shortly.
We are seeing investment in the Civic Centre roof in order to maintain the integrity of the building. This is one of the main functions of the Council, running and maintaining this vital civic facility, and so I am very pleased this work has been confirmed.
Our High Street days also continue to go on with much positive feedback from residents and businesses alike. On Saturday 30th October, I was present at Common Road shops for our latest day which specifically spotlighted Common Road. The event was bonfire night-themed and boasted a trail around the shops for children to put the story of bonfire night together as well as a very talented stilt walker and an awe-inspiring fire eater. Both retailers and residents alike were entertained outside Wombourne Methodist Church with tea and coffee provided inside. It is very important to remember in our village that the village centre is not the limit of our local retailers. We must do what we can to support our local businesses wherever they exist in our community, and I hope you enjoy the pictures taken on the day of our Common Road event.
A further day prior to Christmas is also being planned for the village, and I hope residents will look out for more information.
I am also really pleased to report that the Christmas Lights switch-on is also returning for this year, with the date set for Friday 26th November. In fact, the lights were installed before November began, and I think this could be a sign that we are all very much looking forward to a more normal Christmas this year.
I hope you will be able to join us on switch-on night and make the village truly come alive to welcome the festive period.
It may not have escaped the notice of at least some of you that the Parish Council had sought to fill two vacancies of late; one in our North ward, and one in our South East ward. This came as a result of the sad passing of our beloved colleague, Cllr Reg Williams, and the resignation of Cllr Alan Hinton. Their service was substantial and they both leave hard acts to follow. However, I am very pleased to announce we now have a full compliment of Councillors. All members of this Council are at your service and, should you require advice, assistance or scrutiny to be applied by this council, I ask you to approach your local members.
It is also important that I mention Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. Armistice Day, the date on which the guns fell silent 103 years ago and the fighting in the Great War stopped, is itself a point to reflect on the loss of loved ones who may have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country and the lives of their loved ones. 886,000 individual souls left behind friends, loved ones and communities who rightly continue to refuse to forget. A ceremony held on Armistice Day was held at the District Council offices in Codsall and I am very pleased to say this was attended by my Vice Chairman, Cllr John Pike. Once again I represented this council and our community at our memorial service at St Benedicts on Sunday 14th November. This is always a task of great importance and gravity to me, and it is with great pride that I join so many of you in doing so this year.
Before signing off, I must also note that you may be reading this article while the Public Consultation to the Local Plan Review is ongoing. If you have not done so, please do ensure you submit comments on the ‘Preferred Options’ put forward by the District Council. The proposals within this review potentially affect us all, and so I urge all residents to submit their thoughts. The consultation remains open until 13th December, and if you would like to know more, please contact South Staffordshire District Council.
All that now remains for me to say is please have a safe, warm and very happy Christmas, followed by a bright, hopeful and fulfilling New Year.
Wombourne Parish Council
It has now been a common feature of my reports for sixteen months now, and so dominant has this subject been in our national, and indeed international story that it seems the best place to start once more. I refer of course to Covid-19.
As spring has moved into summer, optimism has returned once more. Local retailers are trading again, and so too hospitality venues have welcomed us back to much loved community focal points where we have so often caught up with friends. It all feels very ‘normal’.
Many things certainly appear to be heading in the right direction at last, with businesses reopening, testing giving us confidence and the astounding vaccine rollout affording us all some long-term protection against a nasty and persistent virus.
At the same time, we do still have some concerns. As we reopen society once more, cases are beginning to rise. This is a natural consequence of reopening, though to date hospitalisations and serious illness in the population remains mercifully low. I hope this continues.
At the time of writing, the mood is pretty buoyant. Restrictions are expected to end fully in a matter of weeks and we have been cheered as a society no end by a surprisingly strong run by England in the Euros football.
The Parish Council has worked on several key Saturdays across the summer to encourage Wombourne residents to shop local, as well as residents further afield to visit our unique High Streets. This is all aimed at helping our small traders to recover from the pandemic. There are several themes; the first was ‘music’, transforming the village into one large music festival; with the others being based around ‘heroes’ and ‘fairy tales’. With live performance and a spectacle for the public, especially children, it is hoped this helps show off our High Streets at their best, with work undertaken around the village centre as well as at Blakeley.
Several other initiatives are also ongoing, including Wombourne Community Speed Watch, which is now active and helping to make our roads safer. If you see the team out and about, give them a wave and let them know their entirely voluntary efforts are appreciated.
BKV and other groups remain as active as ever, and are well supported by Councillors. If you would like to volunteer, get in touch with one of them; they would be pleased to hear from you. Similarly, if you are involved with a community group and would like to show off what you do in our community, I would love to hear from you. As Chairman of the Parish Council, I always feel strongly about supporting our voluntary sector and recognising the value and joy you bring, so please get in touch.
I do hope, as we look towards late summer and autumn, that the outlook continues to improve and we can welcome back village events such as the Christmas lights switch-on and others (apologies for mentioning Christmas already!) and a return of the Carnival next year, which is greatly longed-for by many, as well as the exciting celebrations for Her Majesty the Queen’s 70th year on the throne.
South Staffordshire Council’s Local Plan Review
Finally, and very importantly, I turn to the theme of development. The District Council’s Local Plan Review is now well advanced and is due to report on its ‘Preferred Options’ towards the end of the summer, likely September. At that stage, we will get an idea of the sites proposed for potential future development, and this will be followed by an eight-week public consultation. I urge all residents to engage with that consultation when the time comes.
The reason I specifically mention this now is because significant interest and concern is being raised by the publication of very professional documents promoting one ‘site’ or other. These are produced by developers and are intended to help sell the vision they have but they are not part of the Council’s review. The District Council will make their own determinations on which sites are considered appropriate and so these documents are currently entirely speculative.
Naturally, a conversation around development, the needs of future generations and the infrastructure that would need to come with it has to be had while we also seek to ensure we retain the character and identity of our village within the wider District. As such, please ensure your voice is heard by contributing to the next public consultation stage. Your voice matters.
Wombourne Parish Council
As I sit down to write this latest report, I am filled with optimism. After a very cold and wet start to the new year, which has also witnessed further horrific ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic across the country, there now appears to be a sense of optimism in the air.
February gave way to March with some wonderfully sunny and warm weather, which I am sure gave everybody a much-needed boost. At the time of writing, just over 20 million have received their first vaccine dose, and the number of cases continues to decrease. The Prime Minister’s ‘road map’ out of lock-down has been published, and this means we will have started to emerge from lock-down. By the time you read these words, we will have passed the first anniversary of lock-down on 23rd March. We have all witnessed the hardships of this last year, whether we have been ill, lost loved ones, shielded for extended periods, missed work and school routines, or felt the pressure this has all placed on our mental health. We are all looking to the horizon for the dawn of that happier time.
In the spirit of reflection, and of celebrating the lives of those who have passed in the last year for the joy their lives gave to us, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the passing of Philip Pennell. To those of you that knew him, or indeed to those of you that may have supported or enjoyed the work of the Wombourne History Group, WHiG and Phil were inseparable. He was one of the founding members, and living in the village for over fifty years, there was little about the place he did not know. A Planning Officer by trade, he knew maps. He also had a great fondness for the pubs of the village. It is with great sadness that we mark his passing; another stalwart of village life lost in this last, long year of sadness.
The village looks to the future though, and I would like to ask that, if any of you reading this share an interest in our local history, consider contacting and joining WHiG. As a passionate teacher of history myself, I cannot think of a more fitting tribute.
We certainly are looking to more positive things as this year progresses, and already many wonderful things are happening in the village. By now, you will no doubt know that I am a strong supporter of Wombourne’s Best Kept Village team; and what a team they are! Have you seen our not so small army of young litter warriors out and about? This initiative was launched by BKV in February, and within days over 60 children had signed up for their own litter-picker and hi-vis vest to show litter just who’s boss. They even made the Express and Star and their hard work is already being widely recognised by residents across the Parish.
Education is how we make a long-term difference in this world, and these children will grow up to be responsible adults that take pride in their home. This is how we win the war on waste and make positive changes that help the environment. I cannot be prouder of what they are doing, and of BKV for leading the way. If you see them out and about, tell them how proud you are of them.
There is further good news for road safety in the village too. Wombourne now has its very own Community Speed Watch team. The Parish Council and our County Councillor have supported the initiative through the purchase of equipment in the past, although we have always lacked a sustainable team to maintain activities. This is something I have sought to solve, and I am pleased to report we now have a team of eight enthusiastic volunteers, myself included, keen to make our roads safer. Training has been delayed due to the pandemic, but by May, you should be starting to see the team out at locations around the village. The passion shown by volunteers is spurred by the desire, once more, to continue making our village a better and safer place to live. I have the greatest respect for them all.
If you would like to join the team, please get in touch with us at the Parish Council. We would love to see you on the team.
As my second term as your Parish Chairman comes to an end, I can only say it has been the greatest privilege to have served you and our community over this last year. I hope I have helped to make a difference to the lives of just some of those most affected by the pandemic, and I am so thankful for the hard work and dedication of so many volunteers that have looked after friends, family and neighbours. You have all made such a difference, and I cannot say how inspiring it has been to see you roll up sleeves, don face masks and sanitise hands, and get on with supporting your community.
Naturally, I must also thank, from the very bottom of my heart, the inspirational group of amazing individuals that make up the central team behind Wombourne Community Assistance Group. You have maintained online meetings and briefings throughout, you have tackled problems we never envisaged, and I am pleased to call you all my very good friends. Thank you.
Wombourne Parish Council
The Christmas period is now upon us, and this year it looks and feels very different to any Christmas we might ever have experienced. In November, we moved as a country into a new lock down. Having rediscovered some degree of the freedoms we had once unthinkingly enjoyed over summer, I understand when some of us might be feeling we are slowly being dragged back towards the deeply worrying days of March and April. Sadly, Covid-19 remains with us.
While the times in which we find ourselves living may indeed be trying, I hope many of you are able to enjoy this festive season. We have sought to keep positive and festive across the Parish throughout advent, and I hope you have been able to join in with some of the socially distanced activities that harken back to our finest hour as a community in May with VE Day celebrations. This includes a community Christmas Lights switch-on from our homes, community Christmas cards, and a festive sing-along. Hopefully this provides a sense of the generous Christmas and community spirit our village is well known for.
Christmas is always a special time of year, where we see family, crowd round dinner tables and enjoy time with friends. This year, while we are social distancing and unable to meet others outside of our own households yet again, we can still retain that special closeness. Many of us might look forward to special phone calls with loved ones or having our first ‘zoom’ family Christmas. We can still take a moment out of our days to see our neighbours, especially those living alone or shielding, and spread that cheer that is more important to us now than ever.
This message of festive cheer is all the more important for the current circumstances. With Covid-19 resurgent in communities right across the country, we must also restate the commitments so many of us made early on in this pandemic to watch over and support the most vulnerable members of our community. This means checking on neighbours, offering to do some shopping, collecting a prescription, or simply being friendly – these days a smile, even behind a mask, goes a long way.
Once more, Wombourne’s very own Community Assistance Group remain on hand to assist wherever this becomes necessary. We hope this remains unnecessary, but we will not drop our guard over what could be a long winter for some. This extensive group of dedicated and truly wonderful people who reside in every corner of our Parish display the very best of our community. Many of you will have retained the essential contact details we sent round in newsletters to every home earlier this year, and should any of you feel the need to reach out for support, they are there for you to use.
On a more upbeat note, it is lovely to see the variety of ways people are celebrating the season in such innovative ways, and I am very pleased to have been judging the Christmas Window competition again this year. While the times are difficult, it is so uplifting to see the range of businesses across the village helping to keep smiles on faces, especially children, by decorating windows despite the trying times.
Similarly, Remembrance Sunday is always a big day in our calendar, and I well remember gazing out over a packed congregation as I gave a reading at last year’s service. This year, like so much, it was simply impossible to mark this important occasion in the same way. Nonetheless, it was an honour to represent the village in laying a wreath at the war memorial, and I was very pleased this event could still be shared with our residents who feel so deeply about remembering our fallen heroes via social media. This is testament to our inventiveness and enthusiasm that this village, and our county, is renowned for. As I laid the wreath this year, I could not help but feel we are remembering a very many more modern and civilian heroes, as well as loved ones of all sorts we may have lost.
Please continue to look after one another, enjoy the company you can keep in the settings you can keep it in, and continue to follow the guidance set out by the Government. I very much hope for a 2021 that is brighter than 2020.
All that remains for me to say is stay safe, stay well and spread happiness wherever you can. Have a wonderful, fulfilling and very happy Christmas, followed by a happy and prosperous New Year.
Wombourne Parish Council
Somewhat amazingly, it may feel, we are approaching autumn 2020. Today, as I look around our village, it does feel as though life has returned to something that closely resembles ‘normal’. Residents of all ages are out and about, enjoying our public spaces and walks as well as bars, pubs, cafés and shops.
As everybody is fully aware, we have a cricket club at the very heart of our village. As a cricketer myself, I have to say the village centre felt incredibly quiet throughout May, June and into July without the usual weekend sight of a cricket match and spectators around the Green. It has been lovely to see this sight re-emerge and bring back that traditional sign of village life over the past weeks.
In this post-lockdown and restricted world, it does seem many are turning to sport and recreation, enjoying the outdoors in a way many of us simply didn’t have time for previously. This is so nice to see, and I really hope more and more members of this community take up sporting and fitness activities, whether outdoor or indoor. If this sounds like something for you, please look into the wide range of classes, activities, sporting groups and others that are around in the village.
It is also a really wonderful thing to see the re-emergence of our usually vibrant community groups and volunteer organisations, and I would like to congratulate everyone who has worked hard to get back to doing these good things, in their spare time and for free, that make a difference to the lives of so many across our community.
We have seen such an outpouring of community spirit over the last six months and many residents have sought new outlets for their spare time that allows and enables them to do something positive for others, support the community, meet new friends and enjoy spending time socialising (socially distancing of course) with like-minded people.
It strikes me that this year has given us all an opportunity to build positive networks across our community and join in with our fantastic and often long-standing volunteers. If you are reading this and thinking you would be interested in getting involved, please look into the wealth of community groups we have. Volunteers are such a precious resource (and Covid-19 has surely demonstrated this for us), so joining-in, having a go and doing something you enjoy would be a huge benefit to our community organisations. Regardless of your age, ability or even availability, you would be very welcome. If this sounds like something for you, but you do not know where to start, look up our volunteer groups on Wombourne Online, email Wombourne and District Community Association, or contact either the Parish Council office or even myself.
Some of you reading this may have received a Positivity Parcel over the summer. I got involved delivering some of these myself to residents young and old, providing a small pick-me-up in the wake of this most horrendous of situations, and the response was so very heart-warming. I have met many residents delivering these, and have seen first hand what a little gift can mean to people.
On this note, I would like to say thank you to the much wider Wombourne Community Assistance Group team who put together and delivered these parcels – they are all such wonderful people.
As time moves on and restrictions ease, we are all getting out more and enjoying life as we once did. In doing so however, please remember to play your part in keeping yourselves and others safe. Shopping in our village is safe and our retailers have risen to the challenge in providing all of the measures that reassure us wherever we go. Please remember to wear face masks when entering shops and enclosed spaces, and keep two metres distant wherever you can. While this still is not ‘normal’, it enables us to do many of the things we would normally expect, and I thank everyone that undertake these steps to keep us all safe.
Please stay safe and well everyone, and look after each other.
As we reach the end of the civic year I felt it an important moment to reflect on events since the election of a new Parish Council back in May 2019. It has been quite a year.
Firstly, I must mention the flooding we experienced in the wake of the February storms. What an end to an incredibly wet winter. If ever any were needed, this was a timely reminder of the importance of community in such trying circumstances. I would like to say an enormous thank you to all those residents who got out there, volunteering their time in the wet and the cold, who sought to help those in distress, and repair, clean and restore our community buildings affected, clearing drains of debris or reporting hazards to the relevant authorities – whether you feel your contribution was big or small, collectively you helped to make a massive difference, and we should all be very proud to live next door to such community-spirited individuals.
Undoubtedly, this made for a memorable start to 2020. It also fits very well with my experience as Chairman of the Parish over the last year; witnessing the real vibrancy of our volunteering community in Wombourne. Regularly, I have attended events put on by volunteers, whether they are raising money for a good cause or running a group or society that makes a difference locally. I am always amazed by the new groups I come across, and as such I was delighted to invite many of them to our annual Civic dinner in order to thank them formally for all of their hard work.
Community spirit does not stop at volunteering, of course. I was delighted by the sheer numbers of local businesses involved in the Christmas and Carnival window competitions, and the summer Wombourne in Bloom competition, which give much joy to residents at those times of year, and to the great variety of school children designing posters, writing poetry, or singing their hearts out. Not only that, but many of our younger members of the village are getting out litter picking, or watering flower tubs in the summer months, in support of our very own, newly branded Best Kept Village Community to help keep Wombourne looking its best. I’m sure we can all agree that when we see areas looking litter and weed-free, it makes a difference to us. I can also say how heart-warming it is when people approach our volunteers in the street whilst they are sweeping leaves or picking litter, and simply say ‘thank you for doing that’, or ‘well done!’ I have witnessed this for myself, and can tell you it means an awful lot.
We have a very special community here in the Wombourne Parish. While we certainly have our fair share of issues locally, as everywhere does, it is remarkable just how much of a positive difference people do make to their community. It is all of you that make this village what it is, and I can only close by saying that it has been an absolute privilege to have represented Wombourne as its Parish Chairman over the last year.
Wombourne Parish Council
Chairman’s Blog – Spring 2020
Welcome to 2020 everyone!
I realise we are now well into the new year, but what a special occasion. Not only are we welcoming a new year, but a new decade too – and I must say I am looking forward to getting on and promoting some new initiatives through the Parish Council. It will be a busy few months.
First, however, I’d like to go back to some of the fantastic happenings over the Christmas period. As I’m sure you will all remember, the festive season began in Wombourne with a bang on 29th November at the annual Christmas Lights switch-on. As with all of the big events in the chairman’s calendar, it was a night I will always remember.
However, much has happened since then. The following week, I participated in Small Business Saturday, visiting forty-six businesses over a pretty packed six hours or so. We have some really wonderful small businesses in our village, and it was a pleasure getting out to support them and their exciting ventures – and picking up some ideas for Christmas gifts while I was at it! This year was particularly special as we received fantastic support from more outlying shops, particularly from Bull Lane and Common road. This was a really enjoyable day, and if you own a small business (or know someone who does), and you were not involved this year, make sure you register your interest for the next Small Business Saturday.
Alongside this was the announcing of the Christmas Window competition winner. I really enjoyed doing this, and was frankly amazed at the number of businesses that get involved and put out really lovely displays. Again, if you haven’t entered before, give it a go! In fact, a lesson here can be found in our 2019 winner. Blush of Bull Lane put in a truly stunning effort, and took the top spot on their first ever attempt. However, the competition was fierce with Let’s Go Round Again runners-up and a further three highly commended. Well done to all the entrants, and keep up the great work.
It was a great honour to be invited to give a reading and participate in two Christmas Carol services this Christmas. The first, on election night, was well attended by members of all of our local churches, and on Sunday 22nd December I attended the service at Wombourne Methodist Church. Both were heart-warming occasions, and as ever it is great to see so many members of our community coming together and enjoying each other’s company.
In my last blog I wrote about thinking of those who might be alone at Christmas. On the 20th December I volunteered my services as a driver for three of our residents, taking them to and from a Christmas party held at the District Council offices in Codsall. This was all in aid of ensuring that special time of year was not missed by some of our residents who are lone much of the time, and it was again wonderful to see so many there, from all over South Staffordshire. I would also like to thank any and all residents and colleagues who supported this wonderful initiative.
That is it for me, in my first blog of 2020, but I would like to flag up a few things that are coming up soon. First, I am really looking forward to our annual Civic Reception in March, which is always enjoyable – and a way for the Parish Council to recognise the fantastic work of all of our voluntary groups. Some of you may have noticed that the Parish Council is becoming more active online – you will already be aware of this website, but we have now launched ourselves onto Facebook and Twitter, so please do catch up with us online and see what your Council is doing. Finally, I am really looking forward to working on a project to establish Wombourne as a Dementia Friendly Village. We will be getting out building practical support for this very soon. Please help us make this a success.
Wombourne Parish Council
I’m sure you will agree that this year has absolutely flown by! We are now welcoming Christmas and the New Year, which commenced in the usual fashion with the Christmas lights switch-on. It was fantastic to see so many people turn out once again, welcoming the start of the festive season.
I have found it constantly inspiring on all of these important occasions how many members of our community show their support, and come together to make Wombourne the vibrant village that it is. Speaking of which, it was a very humbling experience on Remembrance Sunday to see so many turn out to not only commemorate those that have fallen for us, but also to signal our deep respect for those who serve. It was a great honour to place a wreath, and it is a memory I shall not forget.
Now we are turning to celebrate the festive period, and I hope it brings joy to all. However, whilst it is often a fun time spent in the company of friends and family, celebrating the good things we have, there are those for whom Christmas is a lonely time. At this point I would like to ask that every reader takes the time to look out for those neighbours who are alone at Christmas. They may be elderly or separated from loved ones, and the value of a friendly face cannot be underestimated. Especially as the weather deteriorates, some may appreciate some help purchasing everyday essentials. Loneliness is a terrible thing, and it can only be worse at Christmas time.
While looking out for those alone over the festive period is of great importance, the Parish Council is also investigating the possibility of establishing Wombourne as a ‘Dementia-friendly’ village. If achieved, I feel this would be a great signal that we are determined to help and support villagers suffering with this illness to be independent and active members of the community for as long as possible. It is important that we help sufferers and their families maintain the confidence to use services in our community, and that support can be sought in a wide variety of places should it become necessary.
For now, I would like to leave you with my best wishes for the festive season. May you all have a very merry Christmas, and a happy and prosperous New Year.